One of the best strikers in the history of football celebrates his birthday this Thursday. The chance to look back on the career of the Brazilian legend.
When talking about the forward position in soccer, it’s hard not to think of Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, Ronaldo says. The Brazilian, who celebrates his 46th birthday this Thursdayth birthday, imbued the green rectangle with his talent. Between revolution, influence and failures, a look back at Il Fenomeno’s career.
The origin of the legend
Ronaldo was born on September 22, 1976 in Bento Ribeiro, a neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. At a young age he received a very precious gift: a football. This is the beginning of a love story. During his training, the Brazilian dedicated himself to futsal, which above all allowed him to develop a rare technical quality and speed of execution. In 1993 he signed his first professional contract with Cruzeiro and scored 44 goals in 47 games. This performance caught the attention of national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who included the 17-year-old in the squad to play in the 1994 World Cup, in which Brazil would emerge victorious.
SEE ALSO – When Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Manchester United in the C1 semi-finals in 2003
The beginnings in Europe
In the summer of 1994, his European epic began. At just 18, Ronaldo scored 30 goals and provided 15 assists in the league, not to mention a hat-trick for his European Cup opener against Leverkusen. In July 1996, Ronaldo flew to La Liga and FC Barcelona. Soon, Europe and the whole world can see the extent of his talent. The striker offers an impressive diversity of play, able to get back very low and then eliminate at prodigious speed, to be on the edge of offside, to combine in small spaces… Ronaldo is complete. At the end of December, after just 6 months in Spain, he finished second in the Ballon d’Or to Matthias Sammer (who, however, did the Bundesliga and Euro double that year). After a brief stint at Barça, he won the Copa América in 1997 with Brazil, and then joined Inter in a difficult championship. difficult? From the first season, Ronaldo scored 25 goals in 32 games, won the Confederations Cup and became the youngest Ballon d’Or winner in history. Just that.
Injuries at Inter
After the defeat in the World Cup final against France, Ronaldo quietly continued his career at Inter. But from the 1999 season, the Brazilian prodigy will face injuries that will hardly let him go. In November, he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon. After a five-month break, he returns against Lazio. A handful of seconds into play, the drama. He still has a loose knee and Ronaldo will be sidelined for over a year and a half. At the beginning of 2002 he played little, but found some rhythm, especially in the face of the World Cup in Korea and Japan.
The Galactic Age
This World Cup will probably be the most significant event of his career. After what he has been through, Ronaldo wins this trophy for the second time, finishing as the competition’s top scorer, including a brace in the final. Then he signed with Real Madrid. With their World Cup and a good start to the season, Il Fenomeno won their second Ballon d’Or. Unfortunately for him, despite more than 100 goals scored in a Merengues shirt in four almost full seasons, the club struggle to win titles, despite teammates like Figo, Zidane, Owen, Beckham and others.
An eternal legend
The rest of his career is spotty. Still facing some injuries, associated with a deteriorated lifestyle, Ronaldo lost his influence in the game and ended his European journey at AC Milan, lackluster (9 goals in 20 League games, in two seasons). In 2009, the Brazilian returned home and joined Corinthias, the club with which he finished his career in 2011. Many football personalities testify to the impact Ronaldo had on the sport. He is credited with the goalscoring record for having dribbled in front of the goalkeeper (88), or for having influenced big names, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Because yes, even Zlatan was impressed by his talent. Others, like Nesta, have more painful memories. “I played against him in the UEFA Cup final in Paris in 1998, I’ve never seen a player play a game of football so well. The other forwards, you can always work out what they’re going to do. But he was unpredictable. the former Italian defender declared during an interview.
Now the owner of EC Cruzeiro in Brazil, Ronaldo had the good news to learn that his club will return to the top flight after being relegated to the second division.